First: Why doesn't anybody who covers these ever write about what a supreme ass Rick Perry is? His conduct is mostly obnoxious and occasionally reprehensible. He's rude, condescending, snide, boorish and basically a jerk and that's only when he's not acting like Dick Cheney. As a matter of fact he's almost a blend of the preceding governor and the former vice-president/domestic-terrorist understudy; a snarl with a smirk.
Good ol' Burka thinks he won going away...
So, who won? I think Perry was the clear winner. He got all of his messages out, anti-Washington on highway funding and securing the border, proud of having a vision on transportation. He took a big hit on the Enterprise Fund, but he didn’t yield, insisted it would work out. He didn’t ever say Everybody wants to move to Texas or engage in a lot of braggadocio. It was pretty clear that he wasn’t excited about being there, but every time they took a shot at him he would just grin a little more. I’m sure that he was gritting his teeth behind that grin. When he was asked for information, he knew his stuff cold. He came across as a serious politician. Hutchison had no energy. She was very weak on the issue of how to fund TxDOT. It’s like that beer commercial where the guy can’t say he loves the girl. Can’t get the word out. Ttttaxes. Ttttolls. BBBonds. She wants to audit TxDot. Perry killed her. TxDOT gets audited every two years, he said.
Medina came across as more of an amateur this time. Last time she was spunky. This time she was old news. I was impressed that she nailed the question about how much starting school teachers made. The questions weren’t really good for her. She didn’t have a lot of opportunity to score points with the tea party crowd. Her issues are pretty esoteric. Property tax versus consumption tax. Nullification. I think this debate was really set up to be a fight between Hutchison and Perry for the GOP base vote, not the crazies. It was her last chance to win them over, and she didn’t come close to doing it. Perry by a mile.
Mmmmmmnnnot quite, Paul.
If he won, it was only because Kay Bailey was pathetic (he's dead solid about that) and Medina was not the kid-that-nobody-expected-to-be-in-the-finals this time (she had a higher bar to clear and missed it).
Medina's backtracking on secession after they showed tape of her calling for it on the south steps of the Capitol was her Waterloo. She did get a few good shots in and she aced a pop quiz answer or two, but she's really just a flash in the pan. The ultra-loonies will stick with her but the movement will be toward Rick Perry because they all hate Kay so much. Her nuance on Roe crushes her with these people.
Rick Perry lied through those grinning, gritted teeth so many times, advanced his BS talking points ('"I always stand on the side of life"... and I'll kill ya if ya don't get outta my way') until the mods and panelists cut him off, determinedly ignored his opponents while they spoke, and generally acted like the petulant frat boy Medina called him in the WSJ (but backed away from when grilled about it) until the clock ran out.
Winning by not screwing up, and by having the lamest opposition ever. Yeah, he's on a winning streak, all right. Other reactions:
Peggy Fikac: Well, it was a debate
KHOU: Mobile text poll results give edge to Medina (has links to the debate video)
RG Ratcliffe (and Peggy Fikac): Many attacks, few suggestions
John Cobarruvias: Wayne Slater won
Texas Tribune: No knockout in final round (audio analysis of the debate going forward to March 2) and Watching the Focus Group (I'll spare you the click-over: all but one of a group of GOP undecideds thinks Perry won)
Burnt Orange and Texas Blue also live-blogged. (Sorry fellas, but with Facebook and Twitter also offering all the instant analysis anybody could ever want, live-blogging anything has become more boring than being alive.)